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How can I enter the National Spelling Bee?

Contest rules can be changed over time, so it is best to look at the very latest on the Scripps Howard official site: http://www.spellingbee.com/. In general, spellers must qualify under eight basic requirements:

  1. they must not have passed beyond the eighth grade on or before February 1 of that year
  2. they must not have reached their 16th birthday on or before the date of the national finals, June 1 of that year
  3. they, their parents, educators, relatives, or acquaintances must not have obtained a copy of the current year's School Pronouncer Guide for use in studying
  4. they must not have qualified for the national finals in Washington, DC, by spelling in their final local spelling bee any words that appear in the current year's School Pronouncer Guide
  5. they may not qualify for the current year's Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, by winning their final local spelling bee before February 1 of the current year
  6. once having been disqualified at any level of a sponsor's spelling bee program between June of the previous year and April of the current year, they remain disqualified for the current year's Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee and may not seek advancement in the current year's Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee program through another sponsor and/or enrollment in another school
  7. they may not eschew normal school activity in favor of preparation for spelling bees
  8. they, having once won a Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee championship in Washington, DC, are ineligible for further competition in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, including spelling bees that are preliminary to the national finals in Washington, DC.

With regard to requirements 1) and 2), spelling bee officials may, at their discretion, set a minimum grade and/or age limit. With regard to requirements 3) and 4), the purpose is to discourage cheating. All sponsors have been notified that their champion speller will be ineligible for the national finals if the current year's School Pronouncer Guide is used as the word list in their final local spelling bee. With regard to requirement 7), normal school activity shall be defined as adherence to the full school schedule and varied academic course load maintained by a majority of the speller's age-mates and grade-mates.

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